Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Marketing the Golden State Limited

Brochures, pamphlets, and route guides spanning 50 years of travel on a Chicago-California luxury train
Click to enlarge.
By 1919, a three-orange logo had replaced the single piece of fruit that adorned the covers of Golden State travel booklets.
Click to enlarge.
The lavish title page of a 1902 Rock Island route guide to its new cross-country passenger train, the Golden State Limited. Rock Island and Southern Pacific inaugurated the train on November 2, 1902.
Click to enlarge.
"Every mile in comfort" reads the cover of this Golden State travel booklet from 1915.
Click to enlarge.
This pamphlet from 1930 promoted the Golden State Limited's convenient access to resorts in Arizona and California. "Unusual Service to an Unusual land," is the slogan used inside the brochure.
Click to enlarge.
This travel booklet from the early 1920s celebrated the Golden State Limited's 21st year of operation and promoted its new direct service to San Diego from Chicago.
Click to enlarge.
This guide to the Golden State Limited's on-board services and accommodations was printed in 1936.
Click to enlarge.
"Golden State Route - None faster" was the theme of this 1927 route guide, which detailed the scenic highlights of the train's Chicago-Los Angeles journey.
Click to enlarge.
This brochure from 1924 is one of several used by Rock Island and Southern Pacific during an agressive 1920s ad campaign to promote the Golden State Limited.
Click to enlarge.
An artist's rendition of Rock Island's snazzy E7 diesels graced the cover of the Golden State's 1951 route and accommodation guide.
"From the beginning, advertising aimed to set the Golden State apart from its competitors," writes Warren Taylor in the Winter 2002 issue of Classic Trains magazine.

The jointly operated Rock Island-Southern Pacific luxury train Golden State Limited between Chicago and California is one of three notable passenger trains with centennial anniversaries in 2002: New York Central launched its 20th Century Limited on June 15, 1902, the same day rival Pennsylvania Railroad inaugurated the Broadway Limited.

In separate articles, Classic Trains magazine looks at all three flagship passenger trains and the important role advertising played in their success. You'll see some of the outstanding print ads, travel brochures, pamphlets, and guides produced to entice the traveling public aboard.

"In advertising the Golden State, Rock Island promoted it as a deluxe, high-quality service," writes Taylor. "Speed was not unimportant, but the push was to present a train of uncommon quality."

To the right is a sampling of Golden State accommodation guides, route guides, and posters from the author's collection, designed to showcase the train's "uncommon quality" to the public.

See the Winter 2002 issue of Classic Trains magazine, and read more about the advertising campaigns that promoted the Golden State, Broadway Limited, and 20th Century Limited.


Read and share your comments on this article

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Free download

Free download

Three stories written and photographed by Jim Shaughnessy.


Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Classic Trains magazine. Please view our privacy policy